Dee Moloney on implementing the green investment bank
In June, the Green Investment Bank Commission, convened by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, published its report highlighting the urgent need for a new public financial institution to unlock the investment needed for Britain to deliver the transition to a low-carbon economy. The commission, which consulted widely with financial institutions, businesses and NGOs, estimates that £550bn could be required for investment in supply chains and infrastructure to meet UK climate change and renewable energy targets between now and 2020.
It recommends that a ‘green bank’ be established to deliver public and private investment to act in the public interest, providing tools to address market failures and investment barriers, lower risk for investors in the green sector, and attend to key constrains that restrict the delivery of a low-carbon economy.
The report identifies that waste could be one of the sectors to benefit from the finance, with waste-derived biofuels specifically acknowledged as an area in which new business could receive a mix of public and private funds. But investment in waste infrastructure is not identified as a priority. Yet the waste industry’s infrastructure needs are substantial. Our industry experiences the same barriers to investment as the sectors prioritised by the commission, such as non-waste renewable energy, including perceived technology risks, policy and regulatory uncertainly and difficulty in securing funding for small projects.
“Participate in the green bank debate and identify what it should deliver for us”
The report appears to focus on areas “where maximum impact and spend to implementation could be achieved”, but it largely ignores the contribution that the waste sector has to make to a low-carbon economy and climate change targets.
I recently attended an event hosted by the Aldersgate Group - a coalition which believes that high environmental standards will be a major part of economic growth and international competitiveness - about the green bank commission report, in which waste was mentioned only once.
There is still an opportunity for our industry to inform the debate, and I would encourage you to do so. I recently met a representative of Defra, which is working on developing proposals for the bank for consideration by the Government. It will be looking at what the objectives and scope of the bank could be and the sort of institution it might look like. We debated what would work best for the waste industry; we talked about the barriers that exist in our sector and the solutions that are needed.
I challenge all of you to seize this opportunity to ensure that the waste sector is well represented as the Government formulates its plan for implementation of the green bank. James Cameron, a member of the bank commission, said recently that “it is a tremendous opportunity to rapidly scale up the investment we need to tackle climate change while simultaneously creating jobs and industries of our future”.
I add that the waste industry has a key part to play in a low-carbon economy and that we should work together now to participate in the debate, describe our expectations and identify what this new institution should deliver for us.
Dee Moloney is director of LRS Consultancy